Sweden’s COVID policies worked like a charm, compared to everybody else. Their excess death rate since COVID began killing people is lower than every other country in the OECD.
The weird thing is we aren’t sure why that is.
The superiority of Sweden’s more laissez-faire policies was obvious from the beginning, but I assumed that time would show that mortality rates in Sweden would pretty much match those in other countries while avoiding all the negative consequences caused by draconian policies followed by most other countries.
I was wrong.
Sweden’s excess mortality during the pandemic is vastly lower than almost every other country in the world, and it has little to do with the death rate from COVID itself.
“Excess deaths” are simply the number of people who died in a period of time in excess of the number expected, given historical trends and demographics. Sweden suffered fewer excess deaths overall, despite having a slightly higher number of COVID-related deaths than her Scandinavian neighbors, to whom they are usually compared.
The Scandinavian countries as a whole did well during COVID compared to most other OECD countries, but none did as well as Sweden. This fact has been buried by the COVIDiots, who seem to think that deaths from COVID are the only important variable, and hence they simply ignore that vast numbers of people who shouldn’t have died from other causes are now buried in the ground.
At least they didn’t die from COVID, so that’s no big deal, I guess.
Sweden was excoriated for their policies, with all Right Thinking™ people certain they were engaged in mass murder. And for a brief period of time, their COVID death rates were higher than their neighbors, but mostly because their sane policies didn’t drag out the inevitable dying.
I have been following the excess death statistics for a year now, and the trends are both very troubling and, frankly, bizarre. There is lots of speculation in the medical and public health community regarding the reasons for a dramatic increase in excess deaths, amounting to millions of people dying who shouldn’t have, and understandably a growing sense of crisis.
Not that most people have been informed about the scary excess death rates. There is remarkably little discussion outside small circles, and “experts” try to blame the deaths on COVID or COVID-related health issues. Sweden’s experience proves that isn’t the case. People there got COVID just like the rest of us, but it’s population isn’t dropping like flies.
Those of us who have been much more skeptical of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness might point to the vaccine itself as a major cause of the rise of excess deaths, and I suspect some fraction (probably small) is explained by adverse reactions to the vaccine. But Sweden is, if not quite as vaccinated a country as Norway, still very highly vaccinated. Over 80% of the population was vaccinated in 2022 and it ranks very high compared to other countries with far greater excess mortality.
In other words, vaccine reactions may be a contributing factor, but if so it isn’t a huge one or at least a decisive one. Anecdotes of vaccine-induced deaths may tell a real story–it would shocking to find out that injecting anything into billions of people caused no serious problems in any of them–but vaccines themselves are not the cause of the excess mortality spikes.
I have been combing the literature trying to figure out what IS the common variable among the countries where excess mortality is out of control and those few countries where it is not. Obviously, I am not doing the studies and admit that I couldn’t design a good one, although I am competent enough at statistics to recognize a bad one (usually). So I am awaiting a few really good studies by people who know what they are doing and have access to the data.
A few things are clear already, though:
- Focusing on COVID mortality statistics is a fool’s errand. The way in which different jurisdictions label a COVID death is so different that what counts as a COVID death in one place wouldn’t be somewhere else. So direct comparisons of those numbers are nearly useless.
- Excess mortality–and generally we can rely on these data because a dead person is a dead person, and are easy to count–is the variable that matters. Even if a country prevented every single death from COVID it would benefit nobody if the way that was done caused far more deaths overall. Dying from a heart attack is not somehow unimportant compared to dying from COVID.
- Lots more people are dying from non-COVID causes than should be. This is worrying the hell out of the public health community and scaring the pants off some public officials, and it should be. In the UK there is a sense of crisis and there should be everywhere.
- We don’t have much of a grip on what is causing this spike. Much of the speculation is simply off the wall.
Sweden’s status as an outlier is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it provides a natural control group. While most Western countries went insane, Sweden actually followed the pandemic protocols that had been in place for years. Protocols, by the way, very similar to the US-planned approach that was thrown out the window when COVID hit.
We may not know exactly what went wrong everywhere else, but Sweden tells us what to look for, and it ain’t going to be pretty for the lockdown strategy everybody else adopted.
There are probably multiple causes for what is a public health disaster, but one of them is almost certainly the total breakdown that bad policies caused in the medical system. It was not the influx of COVID patients that caused this breakdown–the medical system is still totally dysfunctional long after the short, temporary crisis passed. Last time I spoke with an emergency room doctor she told me that she hadn’t treated a COVID patient in months, but emergency rooms are packed.
Whatever the reasons–and I am determined to keep digging–it is clear that most Western governments screwed up big time. Sweden didn’t, despite all the crap directed at them.
We need to know what worked and what didn’t. Unfortunately, most countries still refuse to admit that Sweden’s approach worked and theirs didn’t.
In the meantime, many more people will die due to those bad policies.